Overnight hours at the Ashcroft emergency department are being temporarily reduced, and several other Interior Health sites are seeing closures and restrictions in the face of staffing shortages caused by the Omicron variant. (Photo credit: Barbara Roden)

Overnight hours at the Ashcroft emergency department are being temporarily reduced, and several other Interior Health sites are seeing closures and restrictions in the face of staffing shortages caused by the Omicron variant. (Photo credit: Barbara Roden)

IH reduces services in several communities, including Ashcroft

Temporary measures are meant to combat staffing shortages driven by the Omicron variant

Interior Health (IH) has announced several temporary closures and reductions in service at a number of sites, including Ashcroft, where the overnight hours at the Ashcroft Hospital and Health Site will be reduced in order to stabilize daytime services.

Beginning this weekend, the Ashcroft emergency department hours will be temporarily reduced. The ED will now be open from 6 to 10 p.m. on Fridays and from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays, until further notice. It will not be open overnight on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays.

The usual hours of the Ashcroft ED are 6 p.m. on Friday to 8 a.m. on Monday.

Anyone requiring emergency services outside these hours should call 9-1-1 or visit Royal Inland Hospital in Kamloops (97 km away). If you are not sure if you require emergency service, call 8-1-1, where a health care professional will provide you with free information and advice.

In addition to Ashcroft, the service adjustments will affect sites in Clearwater, Lillooet, Barriere, Invermere, and New Denver. There will also be a temporary reduction across IH to some outpatient ambulatory clinics, some primary care services, adult day programs, and some non-urgent home health services, which will vary by community. Scheduled patients and clients will be contacted directly about the changes.

IH says that the service adjustments are needed in the face of staffing challenges caused by the Omicron variant of the COVID-19 virus.

“As we manage the Omicron-driven COVID-19 staffing impacts on the health system, Interior Health is proactively identifying services to adjust and relocate in order to maintain safe patient care,” said Interior Health president and CEO Susan Brown, in a statement issued on Jan. 18.

“We will resume normal operations in impacted communities as soon as possible and in the meantime, we are temporarily reassigning and redeploying staff to sustain essential services throughout the region.”

As well as the changes to the Ashcroft emergency department, the temporary service changes include:

· Closing all the inpatient beds in Clearwater, Invermere, and Lillooet to stabilize emergency departments in those communities;

· Reducing overnight hours at the Slocan Community Health Centre in New Denver to stabilize daytime services in that community; and

· Closing the Barriere and District Health Centre to redeploy staff to nearby emergency departments. Anyone requiring emergency service should call 9-1-1 or visit the Dr. Helmcken Memorial Hospital and Health Centre in Clearwater (60 km away) or the Royal Inland Hospital in Kamloops (64 km away).

“Current COVID-19 pressures have lead to a staffing crisis that requires temporary emergency measures to maintain access to essential services that are relied on regionally. We regret the impacts these service adjustments may cause and will be contacting patients, clients, and residents directly to address care needs wherever possible,” said Brown.



editorial@accjournal.ca

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